People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 03

January 19, 2014



Anti-Communist Tirade on

Mao’s Birth Centenary


R Arun Kumar



TO deride communism, media never lets go an opportunity. One such anti-communist tirade was witnessed recently on the occasion of the 120th birth anniversary of Mao Zedong. Reporting on how the anniversary was observed in China, the media baring its fangs, commented that it was a low key affair, “no spectacular fireworks, no big parades, as would have been expected”, which according to it is, 'quite unlike' China. Turning to the content, it reported: “Mao Zedong was criticised by the Chinese president on the 120th birth anniversary of the iconic communist revolutionary of China on December 26”. Further analysing the speech of President Xi Jinping, it commented: “when he is openly criticised in his own country, one may wonder if the world has eventually refused his ideologies”. It then used this opportunity to criticise Cuba, commenting that Raul Castro is 'rightly undoing' what his elder brother Fidel Castro has built in that country. What they want to drive into the consciousness of the public through all this, is made amply clear: “Now that Chairman Mao too is publicly criticised for his policies in his own country, one may wonder if communism has reached its all-time low”.


First things first. What was reported as Chinese president's criticism of Mao, was indeed a thoroughly biased and selective presentation of facts. They had wantonly omitted all the positive references of Mao. At a symposium held by the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee in Beijing, Xi said, Mao was “a great proletarian revolutionary, strategist and theorist” and hailed him as “a great patriot and national hero”. “Mao is a great figure who changed the face of the nation and led the Chinese people to a new destiny”.


Secondly, even the criticism referred, is plucked out of context. In fact, Xi Jinping, to quote at length, had stated: “Revolutionary leaders are not gods, but human beings. We cannot worship them like gods or refuse to allow people to point out and correct their errors just because they are great; neither can we totally repudiate them and erase their historical feats just because they made mistakes. We should not simply attribute the success in historically favourable circumstances to individuals, nor should we blame individuals for setbacks in adverse situation. We cannot use today's conditions and level of development and understanding to judge our predecessors, nor can we expect the predecessors to have done things that only the successors can do”. Continuing, he said: “The banner of Mao Zedong Thought could not be lost and losing it means a negation to the Party's glorious history; the principle of holding high the banner of Mao Zedong Thought should not be wavered at any time and we will hold high the banner to advance forever”. He then went on: “Comrade Mao Zedong's mistakes in his later years have their subjective factors and personal responsibility, and complicated social and historical reasons both at home and abroad also played their part. They should be viewed and analysed comprehensively, historically and dialectically”.


This indeed is the method an individual is assessed, particularly by a Marxist-Leninist, who does not paint 'all those who are gone, are good'. In fact, Xi Jinping was only reiterating what the CPC had stated about Mao in its resolution on Questions of Party History, adopted in 1981. The entire media reporting of the birth anniversary smacks of its intention to 'both eat the cake and have it too'. If Xi Jinping had confined to signing paeans, he would have been criticised for trying to black out the periods of 'cultural revolution' and 'great leap forward'. If he had criticised, as he had, it is now portrayed as signs of 'the end of communism'. Alas, for the commentators, in spite of their strong desire, CPC officially states that China remains on the road to Socialism.


One of the important reasons, why despite of the wishes of all those who intend to see the end of communism, communist parties not only exist but continue to grow, is their adherence to the Leninist principles of criticism and self-criticism. Lenin, in his Thesis on the Fundamental Tasks of the Second Congress of the Communist International, writes: “Communists are in duty bound, not to gloss over shortcomings in their movement, but to criticise them openly so as to remedy them the more speedily and radically”. And further, he writes in Left-Wing Communism: An Infantile Disorder, “A political party’s attitude towards its own mistakes is one of the most important and surest ways of judging how earnest the party is and how it fulfils in practice its obligations towards its class and the working people. Frankly acknowledging a mistake, ascertaining the reasons for it, analysing the conditions that have led up to it, and thrashing out the means of its rectification – that is the hallmark of a serious party; that is how it should perform its duties, and how it should educate and train its class, and then the masses”.


The CPC, expressing its commitment to Marxism-Leninism, had stated that it will try to maintain these high standards and had initiated a campaign termed as 'mass line'. This campaign is intended to retain close contact with the masses, (as fish in water, a phrase used by Mao to describe the work of communists) assess the objective conditions before taking decisions. The CPC directives on the campaign stressed the need to base the entire campaign based on the Leninist principles of criticism and self-criticism. The CPC decided to observe the birth centenary of Mao too on the same lines, trying to involve the masses and be self-critical and critical.


The media was sad that instead of an outright denial of Mao and his role in building socialism with Chinese characteristics, the CPC is still sticking to the '70 percent correct and 30 percent wrong' formulation and on its commitment to build socialism in China. Of course, even this assessment of Mao as '70 percent correct and 30 percent wrong', is an over-simplified generalisation.


Apologists of capitalism, which is in the midst of a severe systemic crisis, do not want people to think of a systemic alternative. They desperately want China to wean away from its path of socialist construction. So, remembering Mao in this period is something that they are unable to digest, as Mao had played a prominent part in building the CPC and leading the historic Chinese revolution to victory.


The Chinese revolution is indeed one of the three earth-shaking events that had defined the history of 20th century (the other two being, the Great October Socialist Revolution, 1917 and the defeat of fascism) and still remains to influence the course of history through the 21st century. Erasing and distorting history is one of the means employed by capitalism to fight the 'spectre of communism'. Unfortunately for them, the spectre continues to haunt, only to triumph.